FBI director James Comey rejected talk of the epidemic of police brutality against Black communities.
If FBI Director Comey is right, there is no epidemic of police violence against Black Americans and it is all only our imagination. Here’s why he is wrong:
FBI Director James Comey told a gathering of police chiefs that people who think there’s an epidemic of police brutality against black people aren’t well-informed.
“A small group of videos serves as an epidemic” Comey argued Sunday. See more
Director Comey’s reasoning is pretty simple: The federal government doesn’t have an accurate count of police shootings, and an outside study done by elite universities suggests white people are often the targets of lethal force in the nation’s major police departments.
“In a nation of almost a million law enforcement officers and tens of millions of police encounters each year, a small group of [shooting] videos serve as proof of an epidemic,” Comey said in a speech at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference in San Diego, California.
— Aaron L. Morrison (@aaronlmorrison) October 17, 2016
Comey’s speech was delivered just a few days after the U.S. Department of Justice announced a new initiative to track police killings and the use of force through an online portal. But much of what leads to police brutality against black people has to do with institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system — one created after slavery to find new ways to hold African-Americans in bondage under the guise of public safety. Comey’s attempt to debunk a myth of a lethal force epidemic against blacks shows he’s yet another law enforcement official more interested in protecting police than reckoning with the long history of unfair and unjust treatment.
Blacks are just 13% of the U.S. population, but were nearly a quarter of the people fatally shot by police in 2015. But that’s not the only disparity: Blacks are 30% more likely than whites to be pulled over by police, three times as likely to be searched and twice as likely to be arrested, according to law enforcement data. See more
Atlanta Black Star
Contrary to Comey’s contention that there is no epidemic of police killings, Harvard researchers concluded in a study that the fatalities amount to a public health problem exceeding deaths due to diseases such as pneumonia, influenza, malaria and mumps, and comparable to deaths from Hepatitis A. The highest court in Massachusetts ruled that Black men have a valid reason to flee from police due to the data showing they are targeted by police and far more likely to be stopped, frisked and searched. Further, a recent report from a United Nations panel condemned the “systematic police harassment” in the U.S., and called the killing of Black people by police a “human rights crisis” and “racial terrorism” comparable to Jim Crow-era lynching. Moreover, studies have proven that police view Black boys as less innocent than white boys, and exhibit shooter bias against unarmed Black people. According to the research, the blackness of the victim determines whether an unarmed person is shot by law enforcement, as Black men are seven times more likely to die from a cop’s bullet due to police perceptions that Blacks are a greater threat to their safety.
In the past, Comey has acknowledged the problems with unconscious racial bias and the killing of Black people by police. Yet, he has demonstrated a lack of a racial justice lens when discussing matters of race, policing and violence. For example, Comey has supported the “Ferguson Effect” — the notion that increased scrutiny by protesters over police violence leads to an increase in crime because cops do not want to do their job. And the FBI chief had difficulty calling white supremacist killer Dylann Roof a terrorist. Now, he wants to insult the intelligence of the American people, and tell the Black victims of police violence not to believe their lying eyes, when he should encourage greater police transparency and accountability. See More
According to The Counted by The Guardian, Looks like Comey should take a harder look at the statistics and numbers before saying anything else.